By Bora Nanaj
Many students at Jamesville-DeWitt High School look forward to ice skating during the long winter season. However, for freshmen Aryana Nazem and Julia Vazquez, figure skating is a big part of their lives all year long.
Nazem was introduced to figure skating at a skating birthday party she went to at just 7-years-old. She enjoyed the party so much, she decided to get private skating lessons. However, at first Nazem disliked skating as a sport. “At my first competition, I thought I got first place, but I got last,” Nazem said. This experience made Nazem want to quit the sport. But a year later, Nazem decided to try the sport again. “I started wanting to become really competitive,” she said. Vazquez also was introduced at the early age of 7. “My friends were involved in the Learn to Skate program in Cicero and invited me to join,” said Vazquez. After completing the program, Vazquez decided that ice skating would be her sport. “I figured out ice skating was what I really wanted to be involved in,” said Vazquez.
Though they both started skating at the same age and compete on the ice, Nazem and Vazquez differ in the types of figure skating they do. Nazem competes individually while Vazquez competes with a synchronized skating team. However, they both put in a lot of time into their sport. Nazem figure skates for two to three hours on weekdays and five hours on weekends. On Wednesdays and most weekends she travels to Rochester to skate. Nazem says that balancing school and skating is “hard, but everyone does it with sports.” Both Vazquez and Nazem practice at Cicero Twin Rinks. Vazquez practices individually three to four days a week for about two hours. Then on Saturdays, her team gets together to practice. Also on Saturdays and sometimes Wednesdays she helps inexperienced skaters learn to skate through the Learn to Skate program at Cicero Twin Rinks.
Both Nazem and Vazquez have been to numerous competitions throughout their careers. Nazem has competed both in Junior Nationals and Nationals. “I compete six times a year and that leads up to regionals,” said Nazem. Vazquez also competes multiple times a year. She’s competed at synchronized skating competitions in Cape Cod and Boston.
These competitions have helped Nazem become a double gold medalist at the National level of ice skating. She is an International Ice Dancer, “which is the highest level you can get,” said Nazem. “I’m testing all of my international dances and then I could compete at the olympic level for dance,” she added. Vazquez also has awards of her own. Her team received a second place medal at the sectional meet. “We were considered the second best team in the East Coast,” said Vazquez.
Both girls enjoy the challenge of ice skating. “Working to make your skating consistent is really fun,” said Nazem. Vazquez also enjoys working on her skating and improving along with her team. In the future, both of these girls believe they will continue to ice skate. “I hope to continue doing it throughout high school and maybe as a side job teaching lessons during college,” said Vazquez. Nazem says she will keep up with ice skating but is hesitant because “school is very important to me.” Both girls have set goals. Nazem’s goal is to compete in ice dance with a partner and go to nationals. Vazquez hopes to achieve a gold medal with her team also on the national level.